A key Idaho Republican lawmaker has announced a surprising change of course for the Idaho Legislature, saying he has scheduled the first-ever hearing on a Medicaid expansion bill.
Senate Health and Welfare Committee Chairman Lee Heider, R-Twin Falls, told the Lewiston Tribune that he will allow a hearing to take place on February 2.
Democratic Sen. Dan Schmidt of Moscow introduced the legislation as a personal bill earlier this session.
The proposal would expand Medicaid eligibility to cover everyone who earns less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level.
Idaho's Republican-dominated Legislature has consistently refused to consider expanding Medicaid — a provision under the Affordable Care Act. However, lawmakers have acknowledged for years that the state's current system of caring for the indigent is broken.
Heider says he approved the hearing as a courtesy to Schmidt's longtime work on the issue.
Meanwhile, Schmidt said that he doubts the bill will pass, but he's thankful for the opportunity.